On this day, in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union was formed.
The ACLU was founded by American civil liberties advocate Roger Baldwin and other social reformers as an outgrowth of the American Union Against Militarism. That organization had been formed during World War I to seek amnesty for conscientous objectors-those citizens who refused to participate in military combat for moral reasons. The ACLU was created to preserve the civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which include such rights as freedom of speech, press, religion, and separation of church and state; equal protection of the law for all citizens;due process of law such as the right to be treated fairly when facing criminal charges or other serious accusations; and the individual’s right to privacy.
Baldwin led the ACLU for its first 30 years
One of the organization’s most famous test cases took place in 1925 when ACLU attorney Clarence Darrow defended evolution teacher John Scopes in Tennessee v. John Scopes, often known as the Monkey Trial. Scopes violated a state law that prohibited teaching the theory of evolution in public schools because it contradicted the Bible’s account of creation.
The ACLU fought to keep church and state issues separate and allow freedom of speech. Scopes was convicted of violating the law, but it was overturned a year later on a technicality. Although the ACLU did not succeed in changing the state law that year, the trial brought the organization national attention.
In 1954 the ACLU joined the legal battle to prohibit racial segregation in public schools in the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court-brief in support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which argued for the desegregation of schools. In its decision on Brown the Supreme Court struck down segregation laws, declaring that separate educational facilities were “inherently unequal” by definition.
In 1973 the ACLU joined the legal battle to abolish criminal abortion laws in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief to urge the Court to recognize a woman’s right to an abortion based on the constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.
Criticism of the ACLU also came from the highest levels of government in the 1980s. In 1981 U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, who served under President Ronald Reagan, called the ACLU "a criminals’ lobby." Meese claimed the organization was too liberal. However, the ACLU often criticized Meese for not supporting various civil liberties.
In 1988 Reagan’s eventual successor, George Bush, made a high-profile campaign issue out of the fact that his election opponent, Democratic Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, was a “card-carrying member of the ACLU.” However, Bush’s campaign did not hurt the ACLU.
More than 50,000 people joined the organization in 1988 and 1989.
By the 1990s, the ACLU had argued more cases before the U.S. Supreme Court than any other entity except the U.S. Department of Justice.
The ACLU really has its hands full today.
And , it's just going to get worse.
Today is also not one damn dime day.
Fourty four years ago, John Kennedy made history.
Today's party will be really expensive.
Civil Liberty is drowning in security.
Peace is a prisoner of War.
Hubris is King.
Rome is burning.
The rest of us will pray.